Pavilion Of Republic Of Armenia


E-Flux, NY
April 19 2007

Photo: Sonia Balassanian, "Who Is the Victim?", Stills from a
multi-screen, spatial video-installation, 2006/2007, Courtesy of the
artist and the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art,
"NPAK" in Armenian acronym, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia

Pavilion of Republic of Armenia
at 52nd Venice Biennale-2007

June 10 – November 21, 2007
Opening for press and friends:
Friday June 8, 2007 13:00-16:00
Palazzo Zenobio, (Collegio Armeno)
Dorsoduro 2596 T: 041 522-8770
Vaporetto No. 82: S. Basilio stop
Vaporetto No. 52: Zattere stop
For directions visit

Artist: Sonia Balassanian
Curator: Nina Montmann
Honorary Commissioner: Jean Boghossian
Organized by: The Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art
Hosted by: The Mekhitarian Armenian Congregation

Sonia Balassanian-Who Is the Victim?

War has changed. It has ceased to refer exclusively to war between
nations, but involves more complex structures and dislocations. The
information content the ubiquitous media images convey concerning
specific conflicts is thin, they present an unchanging picture of
misery as a universal constant of global crisis.

Memory assumes a central role in the lives of people who experience war
and henceforth shift between two extremes, the collective necessity
to remember and the individual desire to forget. For those who have
experienced war or live in fear of one, or who live with memories
of a war they actually took part in and survived, the question "who
is the victim" is never far from the surface in depictions of war’s
cruelty. But what is involved when a viewer of war images takes an
interest in or empathizes with human suffering in far-off conflict
zones? Not only those killed by war and their relatives are the
victims, but all whom the fear of war afflicts.

Compassion is an unstable emotion: "Our sympathy proclaims our
innocence as well as our impotence" (Susan Sontag). In overcoming
sympathy, a potential for action is released, a potential to lead-in
to critical protest against an economy of global war.

Wars and crisis areas are a constant feature of Sonia Balassanian’s
work. Her concern in her more recent video works are the ramifications
of a general war (albeit never referred to as such) being waged
against the individual. The images of Balassanian’s multipart video
work "Who Is the Victim?" for the Pavilion of the Republic of Armenia
at the 52nd Venice Biennale tap into this universalized misery and
suffering of war.

–Nina Montmann

Sonia Balassanian (b. 1942) is one of the most influential artists in
Armenia, working in the fields of video, performance, photo-collage
and writing. She lives in New York and Yerevan.

The Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art is publishing
an artist’s book by Rene Gabri on Sonia Balassanian on the occasion of
this project. It is also producing an accompanying Pavilion Catalogue.

Opening hours: Everyday except Monday, 10am – 6pm Press
contact: [email protected] For more information please visit:


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